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David Arthur Walters

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Heresy Might Be The True Religion

2/8/2006 3:03:00 PM

by David Arthur Walters


Opinion: The Catholic Church was almost supplanted by the Marcionite Church

Reading Luke reminds me of the great arch heretic, Marcion of Sinope, who compiled the first Christian canon, a new testament, from the books available in his day. This in turn prompted the Catholic Church to respond with its own canon. Marcion's New Testament was Luke excised of everything Jewish, plus only ten Pauline epistles. He rejected the Pastoral Epistles, Acts, and other books known to him at the time.

 

Although Marcion rejected Judaism, he was most definitely not anti-Jewish. First of all, he believed that Paul, or Saul of Tarsus, who first of all was a Jew, was the only true disciple of the Master. Furthermore, he believed the Third Gospel (it was not called 'Luke' then) had been written under Paul's direct supervision.

 

Marcion set the Stranger or alien-god, that is, the Love of the New Testament, against the cruel patriarchal god and the Law of the Old Testament. According to Marcionism, Jesus the Christ was actually a divine phantasm who appeared in the year 29 (his birth and childhood was an illusion), not to fulfill the Old Testament Law but to save us from it. Salvation was by faith in Jesus Christ and his Source, the good, alien God.

 

Most religious Marcionites, like devoted people at the core of many religions, lived ascetic lives. Marcionism certainly had its Gnostic aspect: again, the Marcionites despised the works of the historical creator of the evil world, whom they considered to be Satan.

 

Marcion's movement was widespread and at one time threatened to supplant the rudimentary Catholic Church. The Church set about dealing with the threat, conducting investigations and compiling the second canon of the New Testament in opposition to Marcion's. The greatest difficulty in rooting out Marcionism was that, when visiting a Marcionite church, it was virtually impossible to distinguish its members and liturgy from a Catholic Church.

 

Although Marcion's Jesus was purportedly an apparition, some scholars consider Marcion's great heresy to be closer to the spirit of fundamental Christianity than the doctrines of the Catholic Church. Indeed, the original Protestant protest against the Church asserted the view that Love abrogates the need for the Law and its violent enforcement.

 

Luther got ahead of the religious race when he took up antinomianism, the repudiation of the Law in favor of Love, and had to back track to the Law: he urged the princes to "stab and kill" the Rainbow peasants who took up pitchforks to establish an immediate Kingdom of God on Earth - the political authority killed 60,000 of Luther's erstwhile supporters in order to maintain princely order.

 

We have gleaned what little we know of Marcion from the denunciations of his Catholic enemies. Besides theologians, historians, and curious authors, few people have heard of the first great heretic. Those who inquire are usually intrigued, and usually appreciate gaining more historical insight into contemporary Christianity as well as ‘antinomianism.’

 

Long before the term ‘antinomianism’ was coined by Lutherans, breaking the religious law religiously was practiced by persons called heretics, i.e. choosers. Christian antinomianism continued after it was denounced, mostly in the form of sexual libertinism.

 

Incidentally, the violation of religious law was also religiously practiced in the East; for instance, by the Kapalika cult, which engaged in such revolting behavior as necrophilia.

 

Today some religious people believe heresy, or choosing one's own religion, is the only true religion. Heresy itself may be the true religion.
 
     

 



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